China Leadership Monitor

PLA Divestiture and Civil-Military Relations: Implications for the Sixteenth Party Congress Leadership

Tuesday, April 30, 2002

More than three years have passed since the December 1998 announcement that the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) had formally divested itself from commercial operations. The intervening period has witnessed the expected "mop-up" campaigns on the part of the central leadership and significant resistance and foot-dragging on the part of local military officials, repeating the pattern of rectifications in the system since the late 1980s. Given Hu Jintao's role as official head of the central leading group overseeing divestiture and his widely expected ascension to the central leadership core at the Sixteenth Party Congress, the time seems ripe for a re-examination of the civil-military features of divestiture and their implications for the future party-army relationship.